Things to know before visiting Ethiopia for the first time

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Visiting Ethiopia

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Planning on visiting Ethiopia and not sure what to expect? You’ve come to the right place. Formally known as the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, the country is in the northeast of Africa.

The name “Ethiopia” comes from the Greek words aitho and ops, which together mean “burnt face.” This was how the ancient Greeks referred to the dark-skinned people of eastern Africa.

Ethiopia is thought to be the world’s first Christian state. The country is known for religious backgrounds are ancient, it’s wildlife endemic, rare or endangered and its landscapes alien and dramatic.

Ethiopia covers an area of 1,126,829 km², this is about twice the size of France or the U.S. state of Texas.

There are many amazing things to do in Ethiopia, but before you go here are a few things to know before visiting Ethiopia.

Where is Ethiopia

Ethiopia is located in the Horn of Africa. It is bordered by Eritrea to the north, Djibouti, and Somalia to the east, Sudan and South Sudan to the west, and Kenya to the south.

With a total area of 426,400 square miles, Ethiopia ranks as the 26th largest country based on physical size. The country is approximately 1,018 miles long and 980 miles wide. The total area of Ethiopia is about 90.5% of land and 9.5% water. 

How to get to Ethiopia

Depending on where you are traveling from, there are many ways to get to Ethiopia.

How to get to Ethiopia by air

There are many airlines. that travel to Ethiopia, the most popular one is Ethiopian Airlines which has regular flights from major hubs around the world.  Addis Ababa Bole International Airport became the main international gateway for the nation.

The flight time from Johannesburg to Addis Ababa is 5 hours 15 minutes.

Why visit Ethiopia

Ethiopia is unlike any other African nation. Not only is it home to some of Africa’s lesser-known wildlife, but Ethiopia has over 80 ethnic groups and some 200 dialects, each preserving their own unique customs and traditions.

Best time to visit Ethiopia

When is it the best time to visit Ethiopia?

Best Month to visit EthiopiaSeasonCrowdsCost of Vacation in Ethiopia
Visiting Ethiopia in Januaryweather is usually cool and dryHighHigh - Popular Timkat festival
Traveling to Ethiopia in February Start of winterModerateHigh
Visiting Ethiopia in March cold in the highlands, especially at nightModerateHigh
Visiting Ethiopia in April transition monthModerateModerate
Visiting Ethiopia in Maybeginning of the rainy seasonLowLow
Visiting Ethiopia in June Heavy rains LowLow
Visiting Ethiopia in JulyStill raining alotLowLow
Visiting Ethiopia in August The hot season sends lowland temperaturesModerateModerate
Visiting Ethiopia in September slowly stops rainingHighHigh - New Years celebrations
Visiting Ethiopia in October End of rain seasonHighHigh
Traveling to Ethiopia in NovemberPerfect weather, expect plenty of wildlifeHighHigh
Visiting Ethiopia in December weather is mostly dryHighHigh

Interesting facts about Ethiopia

Visiting Ethiopia

Erta Ale in Ethiopia

Hottest place on Earth

Erta Ale is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia. It is situated in the Afar Depression, a badland desert area. Erta Ale is the most active volcano in Ethiopia and often called one of the hottest places on Earth.

The oldest nation in the world

Ethiopia is one of the oldest nations in the world. Due to skeletal fragments uncovered, it’s believed that Ethiopia was founded in 980 BCE.

Religion in Ethiopia 

Ethiopia offers a fascinating mix of religions and religious sites. 63% of Ethiopians are Orthodox  Christians and about 40% are Muslim. Like Russia, the country celebrates Christmas in January.

Language in Ethiopia

Ethiopia has 84 indigenous languages. Although English is the most widely spoken, Amharic was the first language in schools but has been replaced by Oromifa and Tigrinya. 

Ethiopia has 13 months

Not only does Ethiopia have their own alphabet and calendar. The Ethiopian calendar has 13 months in a year, 12 of which have 30 days. The last month, called Pagume, has five days, and six days in a leap year. The Ethiopian Calendar’s four-year leap-year cycle is associated with the four evangelists of the Bible

Only African country that wasn’t colonized

Ethiopia is the only country in Africa that was never formally colonized; however, it had to defeat the Italians twice to remain independent.

Coffee was discovered in Ethiopia

There. are several stories about how coffee was discovered, the most famous one is that in the 9th-century, a goat herder found that after his goats nibbled on the coffee beans they wouldn’t sleep at night. This led him to try and chew the fruits from the bush.

He took these fruits to a monastery and a monk threw them into the fire. The enticing aroma attracted other monks and the fruit was dissolved in hot water, yielding the world’s first cup of coffee. Coffee then moved around the world through slave trading and other means.

The second most populous country in Africa

With a population of over 109 million, Ethiopia is the second most populous country in Africa after Nigeria.

Home of the Ark of the Covenant

Aksum in Ethiopia is famous as a claimant to the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant. The chest containing the 10 commandments to have been “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). God gave stone tablets to Moses, and the standing obelisk, which is 75 feet (23 m) high. With windows and doors, it looks like the world’s first skyscraper.

The highest city above sea level

Addis Ababa is Ethiopia’s capital city and the highest city in Africa at 2,355m (7,726ft) above sea level. The name Addis Ababa translates to ‘New Flower’ in Amharic

Important customs and laws in Ethipoia

Visiting Ethiopia

The lip plate, also known as a lip plug or lip disc, is a form of body modification. Popular among the Surma and Mursi people of the lower Omo River valley in Ethiopia.

Parents and children do not share their last name

Children are customarily named with the father’s surname because of entrenched practices with roots in anthropology, politics, the inheritance of resources, and patriarchy. It’s tradition to give children their father’s surname, but it’s not a law.

Previously, 80% of Ethiopian women have experienced female genital mutilation/cutting. In 2017 Ethiopia banned medicalization of female genital mutilation (FGM) As part of its endeavors to ensure the health and wellbeing of its people, including women and children. Ethiopia has also. committed to eliminating female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage by 2025.

Travel Insurance for Ethipoia

Use travel insurance while visiting Ethipoia so you are covered for theft and medical expenses. There are a lot of adventurous activities to do in Ethipoia, and it’s best to have peace of mind while driving, hiking and trying some of the best food in the world.

Find out why I recommend World Nomads, check out my World Nomads Insurance review.

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you make a booking after clicking on a link, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you!

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